Living with Fear: I am No Superhero

The other day, I witnessed a noninjury hit-and-run car accident in a grocery store parking lot. While backing up his car, an older black man hit a parked car. He paused, looked at the car he had hit, then drove off. I should have shouted, “Hey you, stop,” But I was silent.

I hesitated to call him out for 2 reasons. If there was any potential for confrontation, the police might be called. A scenario like that could get ugly and even lead to someone being killed.
The other reason is that there is a real probability that anyone in the general public could be carrying a firearm. That is another potential confrontation I did not want to face.

I confess that I live with this underlying fear. I would like to be the person who steps up, speaks up, and defend others when there is injustice. But fear keeps me from being myself.

There is one place, though, where I can be myself. Do you know where that is? Is at the airport after security. I feel safe there. People are not armed.

Once during a heavy snowstorm, I was stuck at Dulles International Airport for some very long hours. Travelers kept arriving, and no one was leaving. At the gates, there were more people than there were seats. Passengers wear sitting on the floor where ever they could find a spot.
Assessing the situation, we could choose to be miserable or enjoy this downtime. Because I felt safe, I decided to go around and cheer people up.

This was an easy audience. Everyone was either from somewhere else or going somewhere else. This fact became an excellent introductory question, followed by asking how they were coping. We were all at the mercy of the weather but still warm and dry with access to food and restrooms. I met an Israeli whose company tracts our every move while we are surfing the web…good to know. Met quite a few pastors as there was a pastors conference in town. I met some people from Australia, some students, business people. A few elderly folks needed additional attention because our gates and departure times were frequently being changed, and they became confused. I felt like a friendly version of the Pied Piper leading a parade of elderly people through a chaotic airport to their proper gates.

This certainly made my layover a pleasant memory. Amazing how positive intentions can change the outcome of what could have been a miserable experience into something fun. I would not have been able to cheer up random strangers if there was a possibility that they could be armed and or cause me harm. I am no superhero.

Crowded Airport/John Scalzi/AP Photo